DeFragging Regulation: From putative effects to ‘researched’ accounts of player experience

Schott Gareth Marczak Raphaël Mäyrä Frans van Vught Jasper
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

In line with the conference theme for 2013, this paper introduces a research project that is seeking to ‘defragment’ research dealing with player experiences. Located at an intersection between humanities, social sciences and computer sciences, our research aims to achieve greater receptiveness for accounts of games that emphasise “the relationship between the structure of a game and the way people engage with that system” (Waern, 2012, p.1) in the context of game regulation. Working specifically within the context of the New Zealand classification system, which possesses a legally enforceable age-restriction system, the project seeks to strengthen regulators capacity to utilize Section 3(4) of the current Classification Act and support the employment of concepts such as ‘dominant effect’, ‘merit’ and ‘purpose’ when classifying games (OFLC, 2012). Extending an established appreciation within game studies for the way games produce polysemic performances and readings, this paper draws on our mixed methods approach in an exploration of the nature of a players’ experience with Max Payne 3 (Rockstar Vancouver). In doing so, we illustrate the different dynamics at play in its expression and use of violence - dynamics that fail to achieve expression when games are considered more generally within political and social realms.


“This isn’t a computer game you know!”: revisiting the computer games/televised war analogy

Swalwell Melanie
2003 DiGRA '03 - Proceedings of the 2003 DiGRA International Conference: Level Up

During the Gulf War of 1991, the television coverage was frequently observed to be ‘just like a video game’. This analogy primarily derived from the specific, ‘bombs-eye’ perspective of camera-equipped weapons, approaching their targets. The troubling nature of this coverage was said to derive from the viewer’s sense of direct involvement: the argument was that viewers were able to marvel at the ‘high tech’ nature of the weapons, at a remove from the bloody reality on the ground. These criticisms of a vicarious aesthetic (dis)engagement were taken to also characterise the playing of computer games. At a time when we have once again been confronted by TV coverage of war in the Gulf, this paper revisits the TV war/computer games nexus, informed by research on players’ engagements with games. It argues that comparisons between televised war and games have little to offer to those concerned with theorising games, at least in their current form. Research with players of games is, however, able to provide insights useful for theorising the fraughtness of watching televised war. Considered in this way, the analogy can be revealing. Drawing on previous research on players’ aesthetic engagements with games, as well as a range of other sources, this paper re-considers televisual war spectatorship, in terms of the figures of proximity/distance; here and there; negotiations between different materialities and realities; and virtuality. It proposes these figures as bases around which a more productive dialogue on computer games and televisual war might be conducted.